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More women 'marrying down' educationally, study says

By Natalie Crofts | Posted - Feb 28th, 2014 @ 8:43am

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since it began tracking the topic, the Pew Research Center is reporting more women are "marrying down" educationally than men.

During the 50 years it has followed the trend, the Pew said there has always been a larger share of couples where the husband is more educated than his spouse. The percentage of couples where the husband had more education steadily grew for decades, but started declining in 1990 before falling to an all-time low in 2012.

Newlywed couples are most likely to involve a wife who is more educated than her husband, the study found. In 2012, 21 percent of married women had a spouse with less education than them.

Photo: Courtesy of Pew Research Center

"The trend toward wives being more educated than their husbands is even more prevalent among newlyweds, partly because younger women have surpassed men in higher education in the past two decades," wrote researcher Wendy Wang. "Among college educated newlyweds, nearly 4 in 10 women (39 percent) married a spouse without a college degree, but only 26 percent of men did so."

The number of couples that have similar levels of education has also dropped from 80 percent in 1960 to nearly 60 percent in 2012. Pew attributed this trend to the decrease in couples who have a high school education or less when they marry.

Even though women are more likely to have a higher level of education in relationships, they are not necessarily earning more money than their spouses.

"Does marrying someone with less education mean 'marrying down' economically? Not necessarily." Wang wrote. "When we look at the newlywed women who married someone with less education, we find that a majority of these women actually 'married up.' In 2012, only 39 percent of newlywed women who married a spouse with less education out-earned their husband, and a majority of them (58 percent) made less than their husband."

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